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Daily Real Estate News  |  May 21, 2007  |   MLS Cracks Down on Redfin's Home Reviews
Under an agreement with the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, Seattle-based Redfin Corp. has agreed to stop posting its sometimes-irreverant home reviews on the Internet.

Redfin, an online real estate brokerage, otherwise would lose its privilege to participate in the Northwest MLS, which covers western Washington State.

Redfin's reviews were written by a team of 15 freelance reviewers who toured open houses in the Seattle and San Francisco areas and then posted comments about the properties. Although some reviews were flattering, others were scathing.

Regardless of their content, such reviews are not allowed by the Northwest MLS, which has a rule preventing brokers from advertising details of homes listed by rivals. Redfin Chief Executive Glenn Kelman says he's disappointed by the disciplinary action. The goal of the reviews, he says, is to disseminate different perspectives on homes from what one might receive from a real estate practitioner.

However, real estate practitioners have reported that sellers complained the reviews made it harder to sell their homes, says Jeff Coop, legal-affairs manager of Northwest MLS.

In April, Northwest MLS fined Redfin $50,000. Redfin is appealing. Northwest MLS also has told Redfin to stop posting information about the number of days each home has been listed, since without explanation that number could be misleading.

Although Northwest MLS doesn't have jurisdiction in San Francisco, Redfin has suspended its reviews in the Bay City to be consistent and to avoid expected complaints, Kelman says. MLSs in the San Francisco area haven't taken any action against the reviews.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, James R. Hagerty (05/15/07) and Seattle Post-Intelligencer, John Cook (5/18/07)

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